Brooks Winery in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, is celebrating their 20th anniversary. I knew about the winery and had tasted their Pinot Noirs at World of Pinot Noir in the past. But I was able to visit Brooks on a recent visit to the Willamette Valley. On this visit, I was introduced to their delicious Rieslings and learned the story of how friendship kept the winery going. I shared the story in my column in the Napa Valley Register which you can read here.
In 1998, Jimi Brooks started Brooks Winery, focusing on Oregon’s potential for expressive, complex and balanced Riesling and Pinot Noir.
In 2004, at the age of 38, Brooks unexpectedly passed away two weeks before harvest. A group of his friends donated their skills and time to make the 2004 wines in Jimi’s style. Twenty years later, Brooks Winery continues to produce delicious wines under his name under the guidance of Jimi’s sister, Janie Brooks, and his friend and winemaker Chris Williams.
Often you will hear a domestic Pinot Noir described as Burgundian in style. But only Pinot Noir from Burgundy tastes Burgundian.
Each region has its own style. Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir has bright red cherry fruit aromas. Santa Maria Pinot Noir has darker cherry aromas as well as earthy spice and tea notes. Russian River Pinot Noir is noted for its cherry fruit flavor, bright acidity and earthy mushroom notes. Oregon Pinot Noir has raspberry, strawberry, cherry and floral aromas with earthy notes of mushroom.
What sets Burgundy apart is that it is a region driven by its terroir. Land is passed down from generation to generation and Josh Green of Wine & Spirits Magazine described it as a more spiritual way of dealing with vineyards. The vignerons (grower/winemaker) look to grow grapes in a way that represents the place from where it comes. They do not have a preconceived idea of what the wine should be. In comparison, in the U.S., a winemaker chooses the land they want to work with and are more driven by varietal.
While we should not compare other wine regions to Burgundy, an interesting panel discussion led by Josh Green took place at World of Pinot Noir. The panel consisted of three Oregon wine producers: Aaron Bell of Domaine Drouhin, Thomas Savre of Lingua Franca and Mark Tarlov of Chapter 24. Their wines were tasted side-by-side with Burgundy producers. Why was that? It was not to pick the best but to see if we could find parallels. The greatest parallel is that all three of these wines have ties back to Burgundy.